Be Like Mike
This article appears in the September 2005 edition of SchoolSports magazine.
When Michael Goodson first walked into the Klein Collins athletic department during the summer of 2003, he was understandably skeptical.
His family had just moved into Collins jurisdiction, and he didn't want any part of it. And who could blame him? The football team was bad, he didn't know any kids in the school and he wanted to stay at Lamar Terry, where he spent his freshman year.
"At first, I was pretty mad because I looked in the newspaper and saw that they were 0-10 the year before," Goodson says. "And I didn't know anyone at Collins besides my brothers (Jakar and Demetri)."
However, his new coach at Klein Collins, Ronny Feldman, had a decidedly different perspective. To this day, he looks at that hot summer day when he met Goodson as one of the major turning points of his program.
"I looked up and said the football gods have blessed me," Feldman says.
Feldman had no idea how right he was.
Now a 6-foot, 202-pound senior who's rated the No. 5 running back and No. 17 overall recruit in the nation by SchoolSports.com, Goodson has found a home at Collins.
He has helped the Tigers go from 0-10 in their inaugural season of 2002 to 8-3 last year with a berth in the Class 5A Division II bi-district playoffs. It didn't take long for Goodson to come around on Collins. In fact, he was sold almost as soon as he met Feldman and his future teammates.
"I met some of the guys, and they were real cool," Goodson says. "And coach Feldman was cool right off the bat."
That cool attitude took a winning form on the field immediately. In Goodson's first year with Collins, the team went 5-5. The Tigers then posted their first-ever winning season a year ago.
In the meantime, Goodson put up some straight-up ridiculous numbers.
On offense, he carried the ball 89 times for 1,001 yards and 13 touchdowns last fall while catching 11 passes for 279 yards and five touchdowns. On special teams, meanwhile, he returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. In total, he had 118 touches and 22 touchdowns.
"My only question is, ‘Who is the head coach who isn't getting him the ball more?'" says Feldman, referring to himself, of course.
But it's not just the numbers that had nearly every college coach in America drooling over Goodson, who committed to Oklahoma State in July. The kid is the total package. His size, speed and attitude will likely translate to the next level and beyond.
After he goes through a full college training regimen, many scouts think he'll resemble USC all-around threat Reggie Bush, but with better size. To boot, Goodson is also known to have stickier hands than Winona Ryder.
"(USC coach) Pete Carroll said [last] spring he went around to see the four best junior tailbacks in the country, and Michael was the best because he was so good with his hands," Feldman says.
Getting a compliment like that from Carroll, the high priest of college football, is like Beyonce telling an aspiring singer she has a nice voice.
It's fair to say Feldman saw this coming. After all, Goodson showed just how good he could be in his first year at Collins.
"Even as a sophomore, we could see him do some things that most sophomores just don't have the skills to do," Feldman says. "One of his blessings is his vision, his ability to see the game and see the whole field. He just has an athletic-minded brain. It's something you don't learn, it's just there."
For that, and for so much more, Goodson should thank his parents, Michael Sr. and Yolanda, who both played Division I college sports at Pittsburgh (Michael played basketball and Yolanda ran track).
With the athletic genes in place, Michael Sr. helped his son become a great athlete.
Growing up, the younger Goodson was more of a basketball player until his father signed him up for a youth football league in fourth grade, when the family was living in Irvington, N.J.
So given Goodson's size and speed, he must have been dominant from the beginning, especially while playing against other fourth-graders, right? Not quite.
"I was terrible, man," Goodson says with a laugh. "I got hit early on and wanted to quit, thinking this isn't the sport for me. But my dad made me play on. He's always pushed me to compete, even if I'm not the best out there."
Pretty soon, though, glimpses of his future self started to show up. After only playing special teams for the first four games, Goodson took a kick return to the house for a touchdown, thereby starting his ascension to stardom.
"That really built my confidence," says Goodson. "After that, I knew I could do it. I didn't have that fear anymore."
Shortly thereafter, Goodson and his family moved to Texas. And by the time he got to Collins two years ago, the only fear surrounding Goodson was the fear he was putting in the hearts of defenders in his path to the end zone.
So while Goodson didn't want to go to Collins initially, he quickly came around.
He hit it off with Feldman and his teammates, saying they became "like a family." And although Goodson didn't know many people when he came to the school, it didn't take long for him to get his name known by everyone there.
"When people saw me run, everyone wanted to know who Michael Goodson was," he says.
But he didn't get to that point all by himself.
Collins is one of the rare high schools with a full-time weight trainer on staff, so Goodson has been able to bulk up in order to make himself an all-around threat.
"In the ninth grade, I was more of a fast back," he says. "I wasn't too big and wasn't able to break tackles. But coach Feldman makes you hit the weight room, so now I can break tackles."
Looking back, Goodson can't believe how well his time at Collins has turned out. He's certainly come a long way from being mad about transferring to Collins back in the summer of 2003.
"I never thought things could turn out so good," Goodson says. "I thought I could be a good player, but nothing like this. It's been crazy."
Needless to say, Feldman isn't the only one who's been blessed.